When You Receive a Lawsuit…Take Action


When you receive a lawsuit from a court – be proactive and don’t ignore it!

When a lawsuit is filed and served upon the clock starts ticking.  The Court will send out the lawsuit via certified mail.  The legal process does not stop if you simply ignore this notice.  If mail goes unclaimed the next step is for the creditor to send out the complaint via regular U.S. mail.  Once this is done the lawsuit is served.  Once service of a complaint is perfected the answering party has twenty-eight (28) days to appear and defend yourself (Rule 12 of the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure).  http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/LegalResources/Rules/civil/CivilProcedure.pdf  If the 28th day happens to fall on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday you get until the following business day to reply.

Don’t sit on the sideline and be a spectator!

If you ignore the paperwork thinking the problem will go away – nothing could be farther from the truth.  If you don’t respond, then the Plaintiff will file a motion for default judgment.  Default judgment is similar to a forfeit victory in sports.  The Plaintiff will get a judgment for what they asked for simply because no one showed up on the other side.

When a judgment is obtained the Plaintiff simply has a piece of paper stating that you owe them money.  The Plaintiff might pursue collection of their judgment or they might not do anything.  It is up to the Plaintiff to take action.  The Plaintiff could start garnishing wages or attach the judgment to your bank account.  Typically, the only way to stop these proceedings is to either (1) to pay the judgment in full, (2) set up a payment plan, or (3) file for bankruptcy protection.  

The sooner you decide to take action after a lawsuit is filed against you the better off you are.